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Open source dev tools rank last

The most talked about and widely used integrated development environments are not the most popular among coders, the results of a recent survey suggest. IBM Rational's Application Developer was ranked number one overall on Evans Data Corporation's just released Developers' Choice IDE Scorecard. However, only 2.5% of the developers surveyed said they actually used the IBM Rational IDE, which places it next to last among the 11 IDEs listed.

Microsoft's Visual Studio.NET placed second in the overall ranking, followed by Borland's Delphi. The two open-source IDEs included in the survey, NetBeans and tools from the Eclipse Foundation, came in 10th and 11th, respectively—or last, overall.

Nearly 32% of the developers surveyed said they used the Visual Studio.NET IDE. In fact, Visual Studio.NET tools were by far the most widely used IDE in all three major geographic regions covered in the survey, including North America, Europe-Middle-East-and-Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

Adobe/Macromedia Studio 8 was the second most widely used IDE in the survey (11.8%), followed closely by Eclipse (11.2%), Borland Delphi (7.6%), Sun Java Studio (6.2%), NetBeans (4.6%), Borland JBuilder (4.5%), Oracle JDeveloper (4%), IBM WebSphere Studio (3.5%), and Sybase PowerBuilder (1.9%).

Researchers at Evans Data attribute the low popularity scores of the open-source toolsets to the "dynamic and evolutionary" nature of open-source software. "While they initially have a disadvantage to applications that are carefully researched, designed, architected, and produced by vendors that stand behind their products with support and service," the firm said in a statement accompanying the survey results, "the force of the community behind them will look at weaknesses as opportunities and they will be addressed in innovative and most likely powerful ways... We expect to see both NetBeans and Eclipse improve their rankings in the next version of this survey."

Evans also noted that, despite its overall ranking in the survey, Eclipse is currently the most widely used Java IDE, and that it is "well on its way to becoming one of the most popular IDEs for any language."

The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based market research firm regularly surveys software developers on a range of topics. The IDE Scorecard is based on a survey of 1,200 developers worldwide, who were asked to rank 16 different features commonly found in IDEs. The participants ranked only IDEs they actually use. The Scorecard shows overall rankings of the top eleven IDEs, and provides comparisons of usage and market share.

Features and capabilities rated were:

  • Compiler/Interpreter
  • Debugger
  • Editor
  • Make/Build Functions
  • Documentation
  • Application Modeling Tools
  • Web Design Tools
  • Sample Applications
  • Profiler
  • Compiler Performance
  • Performance of Resulting Applications
  • Ease of Use
  • Ability to Integrate 3rd Party Tools
  • Availability of 3rd Party Tools
  • Quality of Technical Support Options
  • Size and Quality of Developer Community

"IDEs are a fundamental key ingredient of a developer's success and in fact we find that most use two to three in their work flow," said John Andrews, president of EDC. "It's a tribute to IBM that in this highly competitive segment they continue to hold the lead in overall developer ranking." This was the second year in a row that IBM Rational's IDE lead the survey's overall popularity ranking.

The IDE scorecard can be downloaded free.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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